To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes … that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 NKJV
God can change even the worst things into beauty.
When I visited Iceland, my tour guide drove the group by the volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010. He explained the hardships the farmers endured trying to salvage their crops, which were covered by ash. The sheep usually roamed the hills, but had to remain indoors so they wouldn’t inhale the smoke. Iceland had suffered during the economic crisis in 2008 and hadn’t recovered by 2010. The immediate repercussions seemed insurmountable.
For those who survived the initial turmoil, the volcano brought good in the long run. By blanketing the ground, the ash made it fertile. Also, the locals believe the volcano put Iceland on the map. Tourism skyrocketed.
God turned something as tragic as a volcanic eruption into something good for Iceland. Those ashes were recreated into beauty.
God does the same in our lives. Sometimes our dreams seem to go up in smoke as we struggle. We suffer loss we don’t understand. But God doesn’t waste our pain. He transforms it into something more glorious than its original state. He builds spiritual endurance in us during the dark times that He can use for His purposes in the good times. Often, no other way exists to obtain that strength other than by going through the fire.
If you have had your dreams explode and your life turned into ashes, ask God how He wants to use these times for His glory. He has plans to use the darkness as a backdrop to better display the light of His kingdom’s work.
Ask the Lord to bring beauty from the ashes of your life.
Used by permission Christian Devotions Ministries.
When I try to push myself ahead, I wind up last. Recently, I rushed and forced myself into the elevator first. To my dismay, I got stuck in the back corner and left last. All of my efforts to get ahead resulted in being late to my meeting.
This reminded me of Matthew 9:35, “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (NKJV) The disciples had argued on the road about who was the greatest among them. When Jesus asked what they had discussed, no one answered. So Jesus scooped up a small child and held him in His lap. He told the disciples that those who received a child, received not only Jesus, but the One who sent Him.
That would have blown the disciples’ minds. It turned everything upside down from the way their society was oriented. Children were the lowest ranked members of their communities. For Jesus to equate receiving a child to receiving God was counter culture. The most revered members of society had wealth and prestige; they weren’t children who couldn’t fend for themselves. Jesus valued what others disdained. He elevated the least of these to the same worth of God Himself. When we love those that society would ignore, we love God.
Another time, Mary the mother of James and John petitioned Jesus to have her sons sit beside Him in His kingdom. Jesus warned them that they did not know what they asked and indicated the Father would choose who sat at His side. This request irked the other disciples.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-25 (NKJV)
First Jesus told the disciples that accepting children was accepting God. Then Jesus said the very people they had always esteemed—the rulers—were the exact people to avoid emulating. His teachings probably irritated the disciples because it was a radical way to interact with those around them. Jesus’ life goal was to serve others by sacrificing Himself for the world.
Later, Jesus demonstrated servanthood by washing His disciples feet during the meal we call the Last Supper. Jesus bent low and scoured caked mud from His disciples’ feet. The lowest servant usually did this job because it was so filthy. Peter initially refused to allow Jesus to wash His feet because it violated his sense of propriety. It simply was not done for someone important to humble himself to get dirty for someone else.
After Jesus cleaned their feet, He said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.” John 13:14-16 (NKJV)
Jesus set an example when He cleaned their feet. Nothing was beneath the dignity of Christ. He knew the next day He faced humiliations galore on the cross. His body was bruised and beaten until He was unrecognizable as a human. Yet He took His final moments with His beloved friends to instill in them the importance of serving others.
Christ always focused on others. Jesus bore our sin and shame to restore our relationship with the Father. Everything He did bore witness to His love of service, so we may follow in His footsteps. A servant is not greater than His master. Nothing is beneath us.
The next time I entered an elevator, I let everyone else get on first. I smiled at my fellow passengers instead of tapping my foot and staring at my watch. As the doors opened, because I walked in last, I was nearest the door and exited first. God’s word held true. “So the last will be first, and the first last.” Matthew 20:16 (NKJV) When I serve from behind, God gets me where He needs me, when He needs me there.
Has trying to get ahead ever backfired on you?
What ways can you actively seek to serve others?
Sometimes I am very human and make silly mistakes. Be the errors big or small, the enemy of my soul likes to fashion my sins into a mallet to bludgeon my soul so I can’t escape the shame. For years I lived under strong condemnation, but God is helping me fight my way to the light.
Earlier this year, God gave me a phrase to help me embrace the freedom I have in Christ. It was my first writer’s conference, and I had no idea what to expect. My friends let me stay with them to break up my drive. The next morning as I left town the song “Reckless Love” by Corey Asbury came on the radio. The song breathed life into my worn out spirit. I had needed the reminder that although the previous year had been abysmal, God hadn’t left me there. Instead, God was actively pursuing me with His love.
I got so excited about the song that I turned the wrong direction on the highway and drove for over 20 miles on autopilot, basking in the love of the Father. Eventually, I noticed the numbers on the signs were increasing instead of decreasing. I did a U-turn at the next exit and finally headed in the right direction.
Satan worked hard to rob of the joy I’d just had. My grandma driver tendencies wouldn’t let me speed enough to make up the time. Now I would be late. Not having been to a conference before, I imagined myself walking in late, all eyes swiveling to me as I entered in shame. Perhaps no one would read any of my writings if they knew I was late. My thoughts began to spin out of control.
Then God told me to live under grace. He said “Just LUG!” My heart was in the right place, and God did not judge me. Instead, He rejoiced that I had embraced His love for me. Now He wanted me to make His love for me greater than my mistake. I could live in the freedom to be human and err, yet still be loved by the Lord. Even though condemnation felt normal, I chose to LUG. The freedom that accompanied that decision was delightful. This was how I was supposed to live – forgiven with my sins covered by Christ, not condemned, still a slave to sin.
Romans 6:14 (NKJV) says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” When we know Christ, we are not ruled by the law which requires us to be perfect. The law was designed to reveal that we are sinners (Romans 3:20) but will never be perfect. Praise Jesus that He was the sinless sacrifice for us. He fulfilled the requirements of the law that we never could. He also took the complete punishment for our sins on the cross, thereby making it possible for us to LUG.
James 2:12-13 (NKJV) says, “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God’s grace is bigger than the law. Under the new covenant, we live under the law of liberty, the law of freedom and forgiveness in Christ. We are not to live under the fear of the old law where our works won’t measure up. Instead, we live in assurance that we will be judged by the work of Christ on the cross that paid for our liberty. We get mercy because Jesus took the judgment.
Now, does this mean that because we can receive God’s forgiveness that we should abuse His grace? Paul addresses this clearly in Romans 6:15, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” (NKJV) When we live out of our identity as being free in Christ, we actually want to obey God. Our motivation is not to prove ourselves as good enough. We do right because we are already made worthy by the blood of Jesus.
Now, what do we do when we have genuinely messed up and sinned, not just gotten lost driving somewhere? 1 John 1:9 (NKJV) says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we confess our sins, we agree with God that what we did with wrong. In response, God forgives our sins and restores our relationship with Him.
We’re not supposed to agree with Satan that our sins are bigger than God’s grace. We’re to accept God’s forgiveness and continue to LUG. As we live under that grace, we focuses on how big God is and put our sins in proper perspective. God’s grace defeated the law though the blood of Jesus. I pray we choose to LUG with joy!
Have you ever struggling with making your sins bigger than God?
What has helped you cling to God’s grace?
We live in a microwave society where everything seems instantaneous. Instant popcorn, fast food, microwave vegetables. Our phones hold vast libraries worth of information at our fingertips. We watch TV “on demand” to see shows at whatever time suits our needs.
In high school, I had a pen pal in England. If I received a letter and responded the next day, I got a note every 10 days. Now with email, we can communicate across the globe in less than 10 seconds. With everything available so quickly, we can lose our ability to wait.
Waiting is never easy. So God, in His great love for us, provides opportunities for us to grow. Hebrews 10:36 says, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (NKJV) One of the byproducts of obedience over the long haul is the ability to persevere. The more we heed God, the more we see Him care for His own.
The story of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-18) has always struck me. The widow demanded justice every day from the judge and wore him down. He granted her justice so she’d leave him alone. God is a just judge, and avenges His children speedily. It probably didn’t feel fast to the widow, but God took care of her. Part of our job is to ask God for help.
Matthew 7:7-11 (HCSB) says “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” The original Greek verbs denote a continued action, not a one-time occurrence. We are to keep asking, not just ask once. We need to continue praying and not give up.
We must keep praying, because sometimes God says no before saying yes. Trying to find my first real job was stressful. I had seasonal work, which had the possibility to lead into full time employment. The position I wanted to fill was in my field of studies. My coworker had a different educational background and unrelated work experience. I assumed I’d get the job. I didn’t.
I was devastated. I couldn’t understand why she was hired. In my mind, I was more qualified. I questioned God’s wisdom in withholding this job from me. This showed a lack of faith when I acted like God didn’t care. Our Heavenly Father always heard me, but I needed to endure. Daniel fasted three weeks before the angel brought a message to him because of a spiritual battle. I had to pray and trust God, knowing He would come through.
Fortunately, God answered my cries. A month later, I was offered a three month-internship that required me to move. I knew it was where God wanted me. If I had had a full time job, I wouldn’t have had the courage to leave for another short-term job. Even after moving in faith, it still took months to get a permanent job. I worked for a temp agency until God gave me a good job with nice people.
God’s no turned into a wait so He could give me His best. Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (NKJV) God exceeded my expectations and generously provided for my needs.
My part is to pray and trust. God’s job is to hear. His timing and ways are perfect. However, God’s timing rarely seems to be my timing. When I pray, the answer is often wait. Sometimes, I wouldn’t have appreciated the things God had for me if I had received them sooner. Other times, God was laying groundwork behind the scenes for my future. I just didn’t know about it when I first prayed. Had I received my original requests, I would have missed out on better things.
Ask God boldly for all things, great and small, knowing He hears your voice. Keep praying until something changes. It might look different than what was on your original radar, so watch out. Good things are coming, just keep praying.
This week I guest blogged on Katy Kauffman's Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life
A Blog Series on the Gospel of Mark. You will find the first part of the blog here, and then a link to the rest on her website. Thanks for reading.
The harvest is worth the effort to cultivate good soil. Too often, I sabotage myself by falling into common traps that prevent God’s seed from taking root and thriving. The parable of the sower in Mark 4 highlights some common impediments to growth, but ends with the harvest. How do we avoid the pitfalls of having bad soil? Developing fertile ground requires digging into God’s Word so His truths feed our hearts.
The Same Seed for Everyone
Mark 4:14 “The sower sows the word.” (NKJV)
Jesus scatters the seed onto all types of soil. He does not discriminate with whom He shares the gospel message. God’s Word doesn’t change. The difference in growth depends on the soil.
Click here to read the rest of the blog.
My heart raced. I didn’t know how to respond. My friend had asked me to see the movie “I Can Only Imagine.” I hated that song. Ten years ago they played it at the funeral of a good friend who had been brutally murdered. She was young, beautiful inside and out, a solid Christian, and a true friend.
One of my dearest memories of her was flancing at the beach. We’d managed to stuff 28 of our closest friends into one beach house, and someone had bought a box of Barbie cereal as a joke. Barbie was described as flancing – a combination of flight and dance. During that beach trip I got dreadful news that my brother was very sick. She cheered me up by flancing with me in the sand. In the midst of my turmoil, she brought joy.
Instead of joy, every time I heard that song I felt pain. I’d have a visceral reaction and always rush to change the dial. My friend suggested I watch the movie to redeem the song and work through my lingering angst. So I went. I sobbed when the song played, and relived her funeral and the hurt of letting go. Her mother had lost her husband earlier that year and now her only daughter. She’d recalled her daughter’s love for Jesus. She encouraged the over 600 funeral attendees to get right with God because they never knew when their time would come. My friend’s life honored God, even in her death.
I looked to the Bible for comfort and found Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (NKJV) God did not see her death as evil, but precious. He rejoiced to have her with Him in heaven, safe and whole. Had she remained on earth after that, I can’t imagine how broken she would have been. God was merciful to take her home to be with Him.
God also reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (NKJV) My sorrow was to be different than those who have no hope. I would see her again. In my mind’s eye during the song, God gave me a new vision. I saw her flancing before the Lord. Someday we’d flance before Him together. She just had a head start.
There is more than just this life, and we have hope beyond the grave. This world is not our home. We look forward to heaven when we won’t have to say goodbye. God never said bad things wouldn’t happen. He actually said in John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (NKJV) We have troubles, but Christ has conquered the grave. One day, He will make all things new and wipe away all of our tears.
Maybe you’ve lost someone you loved, well before their time. How have you handled the grief? You don’t have to carry the hurt anymore. Take it to Jesus, and ask Him to show you His perspective. If that person knew Jesus, you have hope to see them again. If they didn’t know Jesus, use the reminder to spur you to share Christ with a lost and dying world.
What has comforted you the most during times of sorrow?
Unlike school supplies, God’s grace never runs out of stock. We never have to take a rain check. It’s always there when we ask.
It’s that time of year again when everyone is heading back to school. Office supply and discount stores offer sales and tax-free weekends as parents scurry to buy all the necessary things for their children’s new classes. The school provided us with a list of required items: a three-ring binder, glue sticks, pens, pencils, papers, erasers, pencil sharpeners, and dividers.
Everything proved easy to find until we came to the dividers. We spent over 45 minutes in two parts of Target desperately seeking them. The girls needed enough dividers for each class to create their binders. Finally, we asked a sales clerk where to find dividers, just in case we’d missed something. The store only ordered a certain number for the beginning of the school year. Once they were gone, they didn’t order more. We started praying to find dividers.
Fortunately, we checked an office supply store online to ensure they had dividers in stock before going there. Though we could not find the original dividers, we procured enough to allow the girls to organize their notebooks. Expedition over. School supply buying a success.
Just like children need school supplies to complete their studies, we need life supplies to finish the Christian race. Fortunately, God has fully equipped us for every need. 2 Peter 1:3 says “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” (NKJV) No matter what we face, we already have everything required to live a godly life. We tap into our life supplies by asking God to fill our needs and digging into the Word where we gain nuggets of wisdom for our daily walk.
We also have the indwelling Holy Spirit who will guide us in all truth (John 16:13a, NKJV) and produces the fruits of the Spirit within us. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (ESV) God’s supply of spiritual fruit enables us to survive all the difficulties we encounter journeying through life.
So whether it is dividers for a school binder, courage to face a difficult situation, or hope to get through a tough relationship, God will supply all your need. Philippians 4:19 says “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (NKJV) He knows our needs and provides for us according to His riches. Because He made everything, He owns it all.
And what He has never runs out. Unlike how the store only ordered limited numbers of dividers before they were gone, God’s supply of goodness and grace is endless. Lamentations 3:22-23 says “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (NKJV) Every sunrise God has enough grace for the day, no matter the circumstances. I pray we enter into His stockroom of life supplies through the Holy Spirit each day as we gratefully watch Him provide for our every need.
What life supplies do you need to ask for from the Lord?
What prevents you from asking God to fulfill your needs?
God has given us unique interests He intends to use for His glory. In June, my church had a free prayer booth set up at the local fair. Everyone wore bright blue shirts that said “May I pray for you?” on the back. The air was sweltering hot, so I sought something to quench my thirst. To my joy, I spied an Indian food place selling mango lassis. The delicious yogurt drink beckoned me. When I returned, my friends asked, “What’s that?” Several from our group went sporadically to buy lassis.
The next morning at church, my pastor’s wife and I prayed for the food truck owner. Who knows how God used that prayer, but obviously God was bringing that man to our attention for prayer. Even if the man didn’t know he needed prayer, God did.
But we never would have prayed for him without the mango lassi. I started a trend. People kept visiting and the man recognized our blue declarations about prayer. Had I not bought the first drink, the whole train of folks probably wouldn’t have walked to his food truck.
Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (NKJV) God gave me a desire for Indian yogurt so we would pray for this man. God paves pathways for us full of all our assorted interests where we can walk out the good works He has prepared for us. We just have to open our eyes and look for those walkways.
Not only does God prepare good works for us, He also enables us to do them. Philippians 2:13 says “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (NKJV) Sometimes I get opportunities to do good works, but they are costly, awkward, or difficult. Not all good works taste as delightful as a mango lassi. I recognize them as from the Lord, but honestly, they would be easier to skip. So I ask God to give me the will to do His good pleasure.
My car broke down recently, and I took public transportation home. While waiting at the metro station for my bus, I saw a woman standing in the road asking for money. She was the same woman I often gave to while driving home from church on Sundays in a different area of town. My lunch money for the next day was one dollar, and the bus was due any minute. If I chased her down, I’d have no lunch and might miss my bus.
I prayed for grace to do the right thing. Fortunately, God gave me the courage to give her the money, and I still caught the bus. Proverbs 19:17 says “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.” (NKJV) The next day I found a can of soup I’d stashed in my desk. God gave to her, and I even had lunch. What a generous Provider we serve. You can’t out give God. I pray God will flood your path with good works for His glory and enable you to do them, no matter how they taste.
Nothing is too small to take to God in prayer. In high school, I had a health issue that required me to take strong medicine with some undesirable side efforts. My emotions were chaotic. I cried a lot, including when I lost my pen cap. Yes. I cried over a pen cap.
My family had gone on vacation to Disney World. My souvenir was a pen with Mickey Mouse ears on top. One day at lunch, I lost my pen cap. You would have thought I had failed out of school. I got teary eyed and stressed out. My friends started to wonder about my sanity, but scoured the area outside the cafeteria for my pen cap. I kept praying aloud, muttering “God, help me find my pen cap!”
I never found the pen cap. Those Mickey Mouse ears are gone forever. However, I felt comfortable enough in my relationship with God to pray about the cap. Years later, I shared this story with my Bible study when one lady was having a hard time with something she considered menial. My actual quote was “It doesn’t matter if you lost your pen cap, or your dog just died, if it matters to you, it matters to God.” She has often quoted that line back to me over the years as we bring our problems both small and great to the ears of the Father.
The beauty is that He listens to all of our petitions. He doesn’t always answer every prayer the way we wish because God is not a fairy godmother. He knows how best to respond to each request. But don’t limit God by not asking.
James 4:2b-3 says “Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (NKJV) We need to watch our motives, but we also need to ask. Let God choose to say no. God loves to give His children good things.
Matthew 7:7-11 says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (NKJV)
God is not up there thinking – how can I give stones to my children? Or, how can I make their lives miserable? He is simply waiting for us to ask so He give us good things. I had to learn to receive God's no to things like my pen cap, but still reach out because I know He will provide for all my needs. He is faithful.
My car battery died the other day and refused to jump start. No one responded to my phone calls for help, and I didn’t know how to get home. So I prayed. God reminded me of public transportation. From the bus, I spied a little bird drinking water from a puddle by the road. It reminded me of Luke 12:6-7 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (NKJV)
God cared about her tiny cry. If God provided for her needs, He most certainly would make a way for mine. I thought of all the hairs I lost the last time I brushed my hair. God knows the intimate details of my life. Therefore, He also has a plan for the big things. I thanked God for the bus. He didn’t leave me stranded in a parking lot, but paved my road home.
God will do the same for you when you call out in time of need. Big or small, His ears hear all. Just ask. Then let Him choose how to respond best.
I don’t know about you, but I could always use more joy. Sometimes I read verses and wonder how James counted it all joy when he fell into various trails (James 1:2) or how Paul rejoiced in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). Then a friend gave me a recipe for joy that required me to set my priorities straight.
Here’s the recipe:
When we live this way, we experience joy like God intended. The Bible instructs us how to prioritize our lives. Mark 12:29-31 says, “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NKJV)
Here’s how I see that broken down:
J – Jesus
The first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. When you focus on loving God first and seek to build His kingdom above all, it gives perspective to life. Maybe your boss says mean things. Remember, he’s just your earthy boss. God is your ultimate boss. Perhaps your family or friends are unkind. Seek to honor God first, and rejoice in His love for you.
O – Others
The second command says to love your neighbor. This extends beyond people who live next door. As Jesus shared in the story of the Good Samaritan, our neighbor is anyone who needs help. We are to honor others above ourselves. It is usually easy to love our friends and families, but harder to love the person who cuts us off in traffic. We are to yield even to them, and trust God to get us to where we are going safely.
Y – You
Though you come last, you aren’t excluded. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31a, NKJV) Sometimes you can try so hard to serve God or help others, you neglect yourself. This doesn’t honor God because if you don’t care for yourself, you have nothing to give to God or others. However, you come last because if you only look out for number one, you won’t build God’s kingdom. Instead, you’ll build a sand castle that will dissolve when the first waves come ashore.
As you see, if you mix up the order, you don’t get JOY. If you put yourself first, then friends and family, with Jesus as a distant third, you have YOJ - “You Own Junk.” You might get lots of stuff by putting yourself first, but you wind up with junk in the end. Invest in what lasts forever—Jesus. You can’t take it with you when you go.
If you put others first, then Jesus, and yourself, you get OJY. “Orange Juice, Yeah!” Orange juice may be distilled sunlight in a drinking glass, but it’s not joy. Your family and friends are important, but Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” (NKJV) This sounds harsh, but Jesus is saying our love for God must be so great that our love for our family looks like hate in comparison. That’s a strong love.
Another option is Others, Yourself, and Jesus – OYJ. “Oh, yay – jumping!” You may enjoy a trampoline park, but it will leave you bouncing around with no solid ground. Your life’s foundation needs to be Jesus. If you trust in your own strength or your friends, you will fail. You don’t know all that God does.
The last option is JYO – “Just You Only.” Yes – you love Jesus, but focus on what Jesus can do for you, not how to life out your relationship with God. If you are only a spiritual taker and have no outlet, it makes you spiritually backed up. Find ways to share your lessons from God. When you explain what God is teaching you to others, it helps you better understand the truths yourself.
As you see, the only way to get real joy is by prioritizing - Jesus, Others, You!
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.